The Talking Content series warmly welcomes another marketing heavy-weight to the table, Jay Baer.
Jay is a hype-free social media and content strategist; author of two books, including the New York Times best seller Youtility; host of the Social Pros podcast, proprietor of the popular blog Convince & Convert; a Dad and a husband. He is also a certified BBQ judge and tequila aficionado.
Our Q&A looks at Jay’s mantra to be inherently useful and the need to provide value to others to differentiate ourselves.
You mention that ‘speed wins.’ Is the reward there for businesses who can react quicker than others?
Not always, but often. Speed lets you solve customer problems better. Speed lets you capitalise on opportunities better. Speed lets you optimise better. Speed lets you iterate and improve and communicate better. The challenge is that speed comes more from cultural alignment than from technology adoption.
Being useful to others and providing information that is relevant to our audiences rather than ‘flag waving’ the merits of a business or product, do you think it’s easy for a business to change to this mindset?
The concept behind my book Youtility is that the way to break through in today’s incredibly cluttered communication environment is to be inherently useful: to create marketing so valuable that people would pay for it, if you asked them to do so. It is relatively easy to do a one-off Youtility project under the radar. It is something else entirely to embrace useful marketing as a core marketing premise, because doing so requires you to admit that the interruption marketing you’ve been using for 50 years isn’t as effective as it once was.
Is one of the biggest ways to differentiate from others the ability to stand for something and deliver confident content?
I’m not sure I’d agree with that wholly. Standing for something often creates a bias toward very narrow content topics, and many of the best content examples out there are those that are really “marketing sideways” – providing real value in a way that’s related to the brand, but not precisely so. For a simple case study, WASH-FM is a radio station in Seattle that published on their website a comprehensive list of every televised holiday-themed television show in December. Smart.
Are too many companies stuck in the corporate mantra rather than being human and looking to be helpful to others?
It’s hard to quantify “too many” but certainly there are a large number of companies that believe “business as usual” will suffice in terms of their marketing approach. And they may be right in this moment in time. But, they won’t be right forever, and those that can provide marketing of value will succeed at the expense of those that cannot. Humanization is a different issue, but is equally problematic, especially at scale.
What platforms work with you to deliver a consistent message (the reason I say this is convinceandconvert.com highlights ownership of a valuable resource where people come to on a regular basis and the power of becoming a media company in it’s own right)?
Indeed, Convince & Convert has become a media brand in its own right, and I’m proud of how my team and I have evolved that over the past few years. We have three essential pillars to what we do. The backbone is the blog at http://www.convinceandconvert.com. Traffic is up 50% since last year, and we just moved to eight posts per week, instead of five. Posts are a mix of my thoughts, guest posts, and regular contributors like Jessica Gioglio (the social manager at Dunkin’ Donuts, who writes a weekly feature on a terrific social media photo/video or similar).
We have a daily email publication called The One Thing (http://www.onesocialthing.com), that provides tens of thousands of subscribers with just one link to something they should read if they are serious about social media and content marketing. It’s extreme curation.
Some of our greatest growth right now is on the podcasting side, where I host a weekly show called Social Pros (http://www.socialpros.com) alongside Jeff Rohrs of ExactTarget and Zena Weist of Expion. Each episode, we interview someone who is a social/content manager for a major brand. We’ve had an incredible lineup of guests, and because the show is about real people doing real work, we can dig deep and get into the gory details that you don’t usually find elsewhere. We also create a detailed blog post for each episode.
Beyond those three, we also produce a handful of ebooks each year, a number of guest posts and podcast appearances, and of course I do 50+ live speaking engagements per year.
Is it better to be considered as an ‘expert’ an ‘authority’ or an ‘influencer’?
Great question, and I’ve never been asked it! It may just be semantics, but I believe “authority” best describes what I try to do, but I being considered an expert or an influencer isn’t a bad gig, either.
Huge thanks to Jay Baer for his time. To find out more about his approach, click on the links below. I cannot recommend highly enough Youtility, a book that will challenge your thinking.